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Command and Control - Not realistic?


Hunter
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Guys,

Reading the AARs is great fun. I can't wait to play the game. Now...

The Command and Control seems to be a major step up from any other games on the market, and the scale of the battle depicted is perfect for illustrating some of the more complex command and control difficulties that can be encountered.

However, the rapidity with which Commands can be implemented does appear to be ridiculously quick? In the battle (Fionn/Martin) they are able to order their troops about with only a few second delay, increasing to maybe a minute or two if Command Elements are way in the distance.

Even when the situation changes, and new defensive positions are encountered, it takes no time at all to swing troops around into the required assault.

In my (limited) experience, the planning and execution of a company level assault would take substantially longer than depicted in CM. The Warning Order needs to go out to the Platoons, a Company O Group held, the appreciation done and the plan laid out in detail, the Platoon Commanders then need to make a detailed plan, hold a Platoon O, brief their sections, move from assembly area to FUP, shake out and move to LD, Assault. I then have a metric somewhere that says it will probably take about 15mins per 100m to 'fight through' a defensive position.

A prepared assault for a platoon might normally take about an hour before it even leaves the LD. Sure, a quick assault can be mounted, but even then it would take about 10 minutes minimum.

So, CM appears to play a bit like one of those great WWII games we used to play using 1:72 scale models. Lots of fun, but you end up wondering why it took 6 years to finish the war?!

Implementing a realistic C&C model might also give you the opportunity to show some of the major differences between the german and allies C&C structures. The germans directive control (Aufgraftactik? sp?) was one of the major reasons they caused a 10:1 cas. ratio overall.

Is it possible that CM2 (because I don't want to delay the release of CM) could give an option for 'realistic' C&C timings?

What do other people think? Was WWII faster than my 'modern' training suggests?

Bruce

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Hi Hunter

we had the about same discussion in the "Gettysburg" Forum. In that game, the scale is a lot larger and it is even more unrealistic to have such direct control over your units. The problem is, if you would like to simulate C&C more realistic, which "level" would you try to simulate? In the case of Gettysburg, if you took the role of Lee or Meade, you would probably give one or two orders for the whole game, and everything else would be decided by subordinates... not much fun if you ask me... If you step down the ladder, you would have to recieve orders according to the changing situation from someone (the AI ????). As far as I understand, units will act on their own to a certain point in CM, but in reality, people would respond to changing situations to a far greater extent than just switchching targets or something like that. If an infantry platoon sees an opportunity to use cover somewhere close to their position, they will go there. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't wait for the Commanding Officer to tell them to go hiding. I think that overall, it is a lot more realistic if you see the battle through the eyes of each of your soldiers and act for him like maybe a real person would act. And I don't think it would be a lot of fun to play a game where you have just a few possibilities to influence the outcome - being more or less relegated to the role of a spectator.

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Hunter-

I agree with you. I brought this same issue up about three weeks ago-that command and control, and the passage of information up and down the chain of command, are too quick. However, I'm not sure that a realistic system is what any of us really want. Imagine the realistic game in which the first ten turns, nobody moves anywhere, but the company and platoon leaders are huddled in one spot. Then, for the next five turns, the platoon leaders move back to their platoons. Then, for the next fifteen turns, the platoon leader and his squad icons are huddled in one spot. Then, on turn 31, the company combat squads begin moving. For a battalion-level battle, at least double this prep time. For fragos, maybe you can halve it. Realistic? Probably. Fun? No.

Steve

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Ben,

I take the point that you would be playing a different game if you were only taking the POV of the overall Commander. Certainly somebody has to make the decisions for each of the individual sections etc. I guess I see an option where they are constrained to operate within a framework that is their current orders, and this doesn't change except through the higher-ups say so.

I don't agree necessarily that a Platoon will make use of cover 'in the area' because it is there. Military plans and formations are pretty inflexible once set in motion.

Steve,

Note I did say "an Option" ;)

I think the creators of this game are interested in realism. What if the game turn was extended to say..5 minutes? There would not be any new orders from you (Battalion Commander) within that time, and the AI would run the show at the low level. That would be one way of avoiding the '10 turn huddle'.

While I agree that the game MAY be less interesting by making it more realistic, I'd hate to see that being used as a line of reasoning too often :-( My feeling is that by making it realistic you will probably make it MORE interesting by simulating even more of the problems that a real battlefield commander would face.

One of the impacts that it would have that would probably be unpopular is that it would take a lot more planning to launch an assault. You would need to be very clear about which troops were going where, when is the assault going in, when is the Arty landing etc (oops, not in that order I hope). The number of individual decisions needed may be reduced, and there would be a need for them to have great clarity. Phases in an assault would have more meaning.

The easy (?) way to make it an option might simply be to provide an alternate table of delays, which I assume are already in there, for the movement of troops etc. 10 second delay becomes 10 minutes (or something?).

I would like to see it tried sometime anyway. Maybe it is something I can take on (and tack on) later?

Bruce

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Hunter,

Once the planned assault goes in what you see happening is individual platoons reacting to threats surfacing in their immediate areas.

Note that all those "quick" reactions are occuring at the squad and platoon level and NOT at the company level.

A company-sized attack on a town develops very slowly compared to a platoon re-orienting to charge a newly discovered MG position beside it..

Again, its all about the scale being modelled. I happen to find the way platoons can react with perhaps a 20 second C&C penalty to be quite realistic since they are reacting to local, immediate threats and not following some huge battaliomn-level plan.

------------------

___________

Fionn Kelly

Manager of Historical Research,

The Gamers Net - Gaming for Gamers

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It seems to me that one could assume that a lot of the overall command and control time expenditure has already been completed by the time the scenario has loaded. The attack order is either implied or explicit in the preplay information and troop disposition built into the scenario. The player has time to reassess and make last minute adjustments within the parameters left to him. But the troops are already locked and loaded, the engines running and the adrenilin is already flowing. It is then but a matter of saying OK THIS IS IT, GIT GOING! The command actions then simulated by the player using the game interface are a combination of roles of all the levels leadership that would affect such a battle, even to Division (as in OK, CALL OFF THE ATTACK), though regiment and battallion can make overall decisions also.

Also consider the time expended in the interim phases before hitting the GITAFTERIT! button; especially if you take the time to take notes in prep for some sort of memo to yourself or a full blown AAR. There are all kinds of time issues that will never be able to be "realistic" in computer game play just as you as the "commander" will not be having to make your decisions under battlefield conditions with realistic battlefield stress impinging upon your mental processes.

The nearest to that, is the stuff that reenactors CAN do (but not always accomplish)in field exercises. I have witnessed a tiny bit of that personally and through the discriptions of that by enthuisists. Once, I in the role of a partisen spy was being held for interrigation by friendly troops in a night defensive position (after a daytime rescue action). The friendly commander did not do too well. I most distinctly remember the sudden onslaught of homemade granades raining down on the position in the dark, some on the roof of the goat shed in which I sheltered, others near the defending positions and one --- rolled up right between my legs. The the flashes, and the explosions, with dirt and debris shaking down through the cracks of the sheet metal roofing and the creeping realization of "what if this were for real - - ;it is so easy to die", in a way that mere intellectual processes does not do justice.

This was courtesy of my son-in-law who is into such things, though less and less as he attmepts to turn his talents for that sort of thing into a career.

Anyway, in my humble opinon, with a computer simulation we may as well be satisfied, if the AI and action simulation run sufficiently true with the combat itself taking a reasonably realistic course over an appropriate time span. Yes, the time between our mouse click and the response of a CM unit does come a little quick, but there is more there implied, simulated, and abstracted. se, than the mere appearance of it in real time.

The otherside of the coin is that a lot of the game play takes more time than it would in reality. I do not see how the time element could be other than out of joint and have a game that plays, rather than duplicates reality. It is enough that the actual action phase does accurately depict time and space. But, perhaps not for everyone. Then go do what my son-in-law's brother successfully did last year at age 31, join the military (Marines). There, all the factors of war are being "simulated", even the long periods of non-combat activity.

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To be more "realsitic" as stated, the player would have to place a lot of trust in freindly AI. While the AI seems pretty good in this game, it is almost impossible to make it react as a the player would. It seems that the turn concept and command control are about the same as in HPS's recent WW2 games. I have always thought that the limits this places on your flexibility are pretty realistic, especially because it is adjusted for each nationality.

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Guest Battlefront

Yeah, we have been over and over this topic time and time again, and we always come back to the same point smile.gif...

Totally realistic C&C at the Company and Battalion level would NOT be fun to play. Even extending turns to 5 minutes won't be realistic either. What you need is painfully limited intelligence levels and serious restrictions on your ability to command troops. Even then it really isn't going to be even close to realistic, since individual units would need to display their own unique initiative rather than following your overall instructions to the letter whenever they may come (no platoon I know would sit quietly and wait for 5 minutes while some opportunity is in front of them just to see what Big Daddy wants to do about it smile.gif) Real life battles are decided at the lowest level once the battle has been engaged. The best orders from above mean jack squat if the troops trying to carry them out lack the skills and initiative to carry out those orders. So unless you want to practically blindly issue a few orders ever 10 or 20 turns and have zero control over what your sub units do, you won't even get close to a "100% realistic" C&C system.

In short, 100% realism is NOT an option for any game, since it would cease to be a game.

The basic and fundamental problem with CM's C&C (as with any wargame at any level other than first person) is that ONE brain is controlling the destiny of up to 1000 men, in about 100 units or more, over the space of about 40 minutes, with absolute knowledge about where each friendly unit is and what it is doing, and with a coordinated "big picture" sense of what the enemy is up to. No commander on ANY battlefield, past or present, has that kind of grasp and control. So if you really want to play a REALISTIC battalion commander (or Company commander) you would need to have several humans moving your units for you, without you being able to see what they are going to do, where they are, and without each reporting back exactly what they know and don't know before you make your next command decision. You would issue a couple of orders for an hour long battle and then wait for the results.

Additionally, as Bobb points out, CM is not trying to simulate "a day in the life of a company", but rather "a slice of a battle in the day in the life of a company on a day that it so happens to be fighting someone". Fionn's forces knew probably an hour before the assault started what they were to do. Martin's forces probably most of the day, and previous days as well. I certainly wouldn't want to sit through about 60 turns of yawning just to simulate messengers running back and forth setting the stage for the battle. Even with 5 minute turns that is still 20 turns of nodding off. So don't expect this to be simulated in the future smile.gif

As far as Hunter's question about planning being faster in WWII, it was actually much slower. But once in battle was joined things pretty much went about the same, just with less coordination of assets and fire control. Obviously speed and control of things like artillery has greatly improved since then, but the basic element in any battle is the individual soldiers who are fighting it out. Warfare in this sense hasn't changed for thousands of years.

Steve

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I agree with Stephen Smith.

After all, it is a game and I want to play the game. I don't want to lean back and watch a movie about one computer AI model fights the other AI model. I want to decide (and not every 15 minutes).

There has to be a balance between gameplay and realism. On this small scale, 1 minute turns and the delays implemented by BTS, seem to me nearly perfect, because they keep the balance between gameplay (sheer fun) and realism.

Sorry, no 10-15 min between order and execution for me.

Fred

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I take a slightly different position from with Steve, Fred and Rick. I've played in "higher level" CPX games similar to the ones Fred describes - the games are resolved in 1 minute turns, but decisions can be 10-15 minutes between player turns.

Reports are text based using IRC. Players command with a keyboard and a map, with an umpire receiving and implementing orders from a team of subcommanders. Fog of war goes through the roof, friction is SOP and micromanagers perish. I love this, but recognise they *are* an acquired taste, and some players hate them.

Personally they have been the most intense, interesting and enjoyable land combat war gaming experiences I have ever had. That is not to say it is a *better* approach to a game - it is just *different*. I still like a more traditional hands-on-doing-the-lot game as well, and they have many advantages.

It's apparent to me that CM is better for the latter approach, and I expect it will do this superbly.

One of the realism vs game trade-offs in this is a higher level of C&C, but given the game design concept it is pretty well unavoidable. The overall outcomes still seem pretty close to the mark, so I'm not as fussed with the abstraction as I am with a few other (superfically) similar games on my hard-drive. smile.gif

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